Northern Ireland news

Young gaelic footballer who lost legs and fingers an `inspiration to everybody' says Derry coach

Conall Harvey (8) suffered septic shock and underwent a life-saving operation

A YOUNG Gaelic footballer who lost both legs and fingers in his right hand has been praised by his Derry coaches as "an inspiration to everybody".

Conall Harvey (8) suffered septic shock and underwent a life-saving operation three years ago. Then, in a separate blow, he was diagnosed with leukaemia.

He had bilateral below the knee amputations and the fingers removed from his right hand, all due to the damage from the sepsis and required medications.

The Harvey family from Pennsylvania in the US has links to Co Donegal.

Under the guidance of an Irish management team, young Conall is now enjoying his football with Declo Gaels, the largest and longest established gaelic youth club in Pennsylvania.

He travelled to Meath to take part in Féile Peile na nÓg in June and recently starred at the Continental Youth Championships (CYC) in Boston.

The Delco Gaels U8, his mother Christin and his Derry coaches were all interviewed by Jerome Quinn Media for a video that appeared on the official GAA Youtube channel. There have been dozens of messages of support online since it aired.

 

In the video, Conall is seen wearing a Donegal hat featuring Michael Murphy's autograph. Conall's grandfather and family is from Creslough.

Among those to praise young Conall was the Sarsfields Ballerin GAA club in Derry, where his coach Liam Moore is a member.

Mr Moore was full of admiration for Conall.

"He helps me out a lot," he said.

"He's always giving me new references every day. Great kid, had a great fight on his hands there for over a couple of years or more and he's winning it every day."

Mr Moore's cousin and fellow coach Anthony Moore, from Drumsurn, said he had never seen anyone like Conall on a football pitch before.

"I've never seen anybody with the spirit that he has. The attitude is unreal. He's an inspiration to everybody," he said.

Conall explained that the only thing he needs to do before a match is make sure the screws are aligned on his artificial legs

"One of the luckiest things about me is they didn't do this (remove the fingers) from my left hand because I was always a lefty," he added.

His mother said Conall was welcomed as part of the team by everyone.

"They throw him right in there," said Ms Harvey.

"He might not catch up with the other children but he tries and he thinks he does which is the best part and he loves just coming to the game, coming to practice.

"He feels like he's just a normal eight-year-old with this team. "I think that this is very unique, gaelic football. You don't see this in American sports at all - the friendship and the camaraderie."

Conall, from Pennsylvania, is enjoying his football with Declo Gaels

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